Data is the fuel of mobility. Don’t spill it for nothing

data idea.jpeg

(Franki Chamaki, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mouchka Heller, Project Manager, Seamless Integrated Mobility System, World Economic Forum & Maya Ben Dror, Lead, Autonomous and Urban Mobility, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum


In spite of its ubiquity, “data” is still an intimidating, catch-all word for many of us who realise our daily online footprint feeds the small and big machines of everyday life. Even when we use online maps, order rides, rent bikes and scooters, and commute while using these mobility apps, our location and time stamp is collected. In some parts of the world, it might even be collected as we wait patiently at the light of a particularly busy intersection or get on a bus; in the future, autonomous vehiles might “eye” everything within and around them, including us.

The information our data is providing holds the key to a new mobility future, be it public- or private sector-led. It helps determine the right number of trains at rush hour, or the right location for a bike dock that helps us move more effortlessly. “Data” is almost a code name for the promise of a world that can become truly efficient and seamless, and can make our lives much better – if used by the right entities in the right way.

A mobile world

Mobility is a key part of this promise. A new mobility future is about more than moving from point A to point B; it is about everyone being able to get to their dream job, getting the kids safely to school, being able to squeeze in the gym on the way, and making doctor’s appointments on time. But this vision will not be realized easily for everyone; accommodating different physical and mental needs, those of the young and lower socio-economic classes, to name a few, will require a concerted effort. Mobility’s toll on public resources such as street space, air quality and global warming would also need to be addressed before it can offer true sustainability to our cities.

Well, if you have data on local average household income, on the cost of insurance, and cars and gas prices, you can start by figuring out the actual footprint of mobility on society. Then if you have data on public transit routes, route performance (including delays, cancellations and accidents), and stations for micro-mobility solutions, you can know whether more sustainable and effective alternatives are available. By overlaying this information with more data on where hospitals, fresh produce, schools, large employers and parks would be, we could increase the outreach of sustainable and more affordable mobility options. Finally, by becoming a champion of the open data movement, like London and Helsinki, a city could combine user information with data from private mobility providers, then allowing mobility users to negotiate the perfect commute for them and the greater good.

Given the number of possibilities, it is no surprise that cities around the world have become one of the driving forces in data-driven mobility solutions. Many have already started to develop standardized requests for data from mobility-service providers, including New York City and Los Angeles. Finland has possibly developed the new era of data regulation the furthest so far through the Act on Transport Services, which mandates open software standards for essential data for all stakeholders, and ticketing and payment for all passenger-transport service providers. The aim of the act is to enable user-centric mobility services for all, while also aiming to guarantee a level playing field for all stakeholders and more complete intelligence throughout the whole transport system.

But the question begs: are our cities ready for the potential data they can access? Lack of personnel and ability to compete in this regard with the private sector poses a key challenge. This is one reason why the private sector has come in to fill in a lot of the gaps in terms of designing, developing and launching data-driven solutions for the mobility sector. There is a cost to this contribution, though: the data gathered to make new products and solutions work, and optimize existing infrastructure, comes with a high price tag. In fact, datasets can be bought, rented, sold or shared for commercial purposes. Can they guide us to a sustainable travel future?

How should your data drive sustainable new mobility?

The price tag put on all this data is no more than a guess. A guess of what us, the users, are willing to trade in. Data is a financial asset that does not yet have a mature pricing framework that includes the many externalities of travel – the societal, economic and environmental spillovers of mobility. It is incumbent on all of us – the users, the individuals – to make an informed decision about the value that should be assigned to our data. The decision to include factors that have failed to be folded into current mobility costs: air quality and resulting health risks, street space and the resulting depletion in quality of life, climate change and resulting threats to mankind, to name a few.

In 2014, a qualitative study offered a cookie to any stranger walking down a New York street in exchange for personal information like date of birth, a copy of their driver’s license, or an address. Three hundred and eighty individuals traded in their personal information for a cookie that day. Over half agreed to have their picture taken, and 117 people allowed the researcher to take their fingerprints. The researcher did not even provide a reason for asking for the information. Are we any more educated and ready to have a global conversation, five years later?

 

The proposition with which we are now presented is not exactly a cookie. If you knew that the collective value of mobility data generated by the swiping of our fingertips could translate into a life-changing profit for the public good, reduce carbon emissions significantly, or give a baby access to healthcare, would you give yours up? Don’t answer just yet and take a minute to understand what you are giving up, and what you should have a right to expect in return. Then practice until you are back in the driver’s seat.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

Can agroforestry save India’s rivers and the farms that depend on them?

UN Security Council ‘utterly failed’ Syrian detainees; a victim voices her plea to ‘end impunity and stop this horror’

Why sustainable packaging is good for profits as well as the planet

Cohesion Policy: EU invests €880 million to improve Poland’s railway system

Ethical education as an obligatory course in medical curriculum

UN human rights chief denounces grave ‘assaults’ on fundamental rights of Palestinian people

Is this 3D-printed building the future home for astronauts on Mars?

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

Refugees now make up 1% of the world’s population

It’s getting harder to move data abroad. Here’s why it matters and what we can do

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

Vegans in France are using extreme tactics to stop people eating meat

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

These are the world’s most future-proof cities

Sudan: UN chief deplores excessive force used against pro-democracy protesters, calls on military and civilian leaders to ‘stay the course’ in negotiations

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

EU Parliament semi worried over democratic deficit

Is co-living an answer to the affordable housing crisis?

Will Eurozone be able to repay its debts? Is a bubble forming there?

ILO warns of widespread insecurity in the global labour market

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: Banking moguls continue brandishing financial Armageddon to intimidate us all but in Davos they worry about the very distant future

UN chief welcomes start of Church-mediated national dialogue in Nicaragua

World Food Programme accesses Yemeni frontline district for first time since conflict began

Humanitarian Aid: additional €50 million to tackle drought in the Horn of Africa

Microplastics have been found in Rocky Mountain rainwater

Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Is sub-Saharan Africa ready for the electric vehicle revolution?

Syria: Thousands of children ‘hemmed in’ by ‘brutal and gratuitous’ spike in violence

Changing the EU copyright law won’t bring us much closer to Digital Single Market

5 futuristic ways to fight cyber attacks

IMF to teach Germany a Greek lesson

Here’s what keeps CEOs awake at night (and why it might be bad news for your next job)

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year

Here’s a reason to feel cheerful – the world is full of Good Samaritans

UN Member States overwhelmingly support end of US embargo against Cuba

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of L3 Technologies by Harris Corporation, subject to conditions

4 things President Trump could learn from Jimmy Carter

Reconciliation helps ‘repair fractures’, enable lasting peace, Security Council hears

EU Visa Policy: Commission welcomes agreement to strengthen EU visa rules

Guinea-Bissau: Upcoming elections vital to prevent ‘relapse’ into instability, says UN envoy

230 Junior Entrepreneurs and over 70 guests attended the International Congress on “Entrepreneurial Skills for Youth”

Manufacturers Get Smarter for Industry 4.0

Iraq protests: UN calls for national talks to break ‘vicious cycle’ of violence

The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

This is why AI has a gender problem

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

Climate change and health: creating global awareness and using earth resources wisely

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

UN rights chief welcomes new text to protect rights of peasants and other rural workers

Anti-terror measures against youngsters’ online posts ‘linked to spike in child detention globally’

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s